Perception determines the actions people take in life.  If the perception is correct, success usually follows action.  However, often times, the perceptions people have are tainted with biases and misinformation.  Thus, the results may be less than satisfactory.

            I am a realist, and as such, I try to paint an accurate picture of life’s situations.  I do not seek to hide my head in the sand such as the proverbial ostrich.  I try to choose my words and actions wisely so as not to offend the listeners.  However, I consider it wrong to paint a rosy picture for children when the surrounding situation is anything but rosy!  Gifted children especially have the ability to understand the vulnerabilities of life. 

            As we faced another week of a horrifying gunman’s attack upon innocent people in Las Vegas, I found myself having to discuss the event in my classes as students found a way to approach the subject.  These children are not deaf…they hear their parents talking…the TV and radio news blaring… and people on the streets discussing events uneasily.  My job becomes one of helping them to decipher and discern.

            Throughout my career, I have met parents who have sought ultimate protection of their children by expelling the TVs from their homes, stopping newspaper subscriptions, and allowing the children no interaction with technology which might bring them face to face with the reality of the world in which they live.  As time has passed, I have seen some of those same children emotionally drained as they tried to cope with some of the realities of life.  They just weren’t prepared to face such events.

            I believe in being proactive.  There is a wonderful web site that teaches children about 50 ways to escape from an abductor…some ways are absolutely brilliant.  How many people have taken the time to share such information with their children?  It is very useful information to have.  Most of my students have never sat with a parent and discussed a family plan for escaping a fire in the home, or how to find a family member should they become lost or separated from the family. 

            What I find really frightening is that most children only know a key to punch on their phone for an emergency.  They do NOT know their own home address, phone number, or numbers of other family members.  Their pact answer is, “My phone has the number for me.”  It has never dawned upon them that phones can be lost or broken…or even out of battery power. 

            I grew up right after World War II, so I was made to participate in the required bomb drills held in our schools.  I grew up studying the escape routes to exit St. Louis, Missouri, in case of a nuclear attack.  Even as a child, I remember questioning the possibility of escaping the city by way of one-way traffic routes.  If people were not polite and not used to taking turns in daily life, how would they be expected to do so in such an emergency?

            I try to give my students assurances that God loves and cares for us.  I tell them that we have been given a magnificent brain with which to think and reason.  Therefore, let’s learn common sense ways of dealing with the possibilities that unfortunate events might bring into our lives.  My strength in God and my prayer life have served to guide me through some pretty awful circumstances.  I seek to help these children find the same strength.   

-          Kay